Seasons in the Abyss
|Seasons in the Abyss|
|Studio album by Slayer|
|Released||October 9, 1990|
|Recorded||January – June 1990 at Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant in Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Producer||Rick Rubin, Andy Wallace, Slayer|
Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth studio album by the thrash metal band Slayer. It was released on October 9, 1990 through Def American Records, and later through American Recordings after the company changed its name. The album's recording sessions began in January 1990. The sessions began at Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and in June, the sessions ended at Record Plant in Los Angeles, California.
The musical style of the album is similar and was compared by critics to the band's previous two albums: South of Heaven and Reign In Blood. The album's reception was generally positive, with AllMusic rewarding the album with a rating of four and a half out of five stars and Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+. It peaked number 18 in the United Kingdom and also charted on the Billboard 200 at number 40. It was certified gold in both the United States and Canada.
Recording and production
The album was recorded from January to June 1990 in two separate studios: Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. Seasons in the Abyss was produced by Rick Rubin, who had also produced their previous two albums Reign in Blood and South of Heaven.
Track eight, "Temptation", featured an overdub of lead vocalist Tom Araya's singing; the vocal arrangement on the track was unintentional. Araya sang the song twice: once the way he felt it sounded best; the second time at the insistence of Kerry King the way he thought it should be sung. By accident both tracks were played back simultaneously on the instrumental background, and the producer suggested that both vocal tracks should be used on the album.
Musical style and lyrical themes
According to Nathan Brackett, author of The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Seasons in the Abyss continued the band's sound as displayed in their first four albums. The songs on the album have complex guitar riffs that proceed at both "blinding speed" tempos and mid-tempo hefts. Brackett said that the songs' themes shy away from the "fantasy and into the hells here on Earth" and instead was "music to conquer nations by."
The album consists of several elements, described by David Browne, an Entertainment Weekly music critic, "laughable self-parody." The album combines "grim" vocals and "frenetic" guitars. Blabbermouth.net said that the album is "considered to be among the genre's all-time classics". "War Ensemble", "Dead Skin Mask", and "Seasons In The Abyss" were described as set the album's standard and the songs, according to the site, produced a sound that could not be matched by anyone else.
AllMusic said that it combines the mid-tempo grooves of South of Heaven with "manic bursts of aggression" à la Reign in Blood. Allmusic also said that when writing the album's lyrics, Slayer "rarely turns to demonic visions of the afterlife anymore, preferring instead to find tangible horror in real life—war, murder, [and] human weakness. There's even full-fledged social criticism, which should convince any doubters that Slayer aren't trying to promote the subjects they sing about."
Release and reception
Slayer released Seasons in the Abyss on October 9, 1990 through Def American Records. Later that year it was released again through Warner Music Group. It was re-released in 1994 through American Recordings. Although it was "unwelcome" to music shows and rock–radio outlets, it got substantial airplay on MTV's "Headbangers Ball", a show which is now defunct. Seasons in the Abyss features the first music video by Slayer.
The album received generally positive reviews by critics. CMJ New Music Report said that the album cover was "a culinary goof on the veteran metal band". AllMusic's Steve Huey said that it "brought back some of the pounding speed of Reign in Blood for their third major-label album", and addressed it to be "their most accessible album, displaying the full range of their abilities all in one place, with sharp, clean production". Huey later wrote that the album "paints Reagan-era America as a cesspool of corruption and cruelty, and the music is as devilishly effective as ever".
J. D. Considine noted about "War Ensemble": "it's not a pretty song by any means. An aural blitzkrieg whose chorus climaxes with the lines, 'The final swing is not a drill/It's how many people I can kill,' it is filled with brutal images and blaring guitars, all propelled at the breathless pace of thrash metal." Considine would later say that the album's music "so accurately sums up the controlled panic of combat that the Army itself has been using Slayer songs to psych its troops for military maneuvers in the Saudi desert". Mike Stagno from SputnikMusic said that the album was a well-received return by Slayer.
The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 and number 18 on the UK Albums Chart. Seasons in the Abyss was certified a gold in both the United States and Canada. The title track and "War Ensemble" earned Slayer its heaviest airplay on MTV to date. In an October 2007 interview, Evile frontman Matt Drake described Seasons in the Abyss as "the perfect mix" between the two styles ("speed" and "slow material") showcased on Reign in Blood and South of Heaven respectively. Children of Bodom bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith hailed Seasons in the Abyss as "the best metal album ever". The thrash/crossover supergroup S.O.D. released a single named "Seasoning The Obese" in tribute to the album.
|1.||"War Ensemble"||Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman||Hanneman||4:54|
|3.||"Spirit in Black"||Kerry King||Hanneman||4:07|
|5.||"Dead Skin Mask"||Araya||Hanneman||5:20|
|6.||"Hallowed Point"||Araya, Hanneman||Hanneman, King||3:24|
|7.||"Skeletons of Society"||King||King||4:41|
|9.||"Born of Fire"||King||Hanneman, King||3:07|
|10.||"Seasons in the Abyss"||Araya||Hanneman||6:36|
Charts and certifications
- Tom Araya – bass, lead vocals
- Jeff Hanneman – lead and rhythm guitar
- Kerry King – lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals on "Seasons in the Abyss" and "Skeletons of Society".
- Dave Lombardo – drums
- Rick Rubin – production
- Andy Wallace– production, engineering, mixing
- Larry Carroll – Artwork, illustrations
- Chris Rich – assistant engineer
- David Tobocman – assistant engineer
- Allen Abrahamson – assistant engineer
- Robert Fisher – graphic design
- Rick Sales – management
- Howie Weinberg – mastering
- Sunny Bak – photography
- Marty Temme – photography
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- Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 741–742. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Browne, David (November 9, 1990). "Seasons in the Abyss Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
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- Kupfer, Thomas. "Rock Hard". issue 44. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
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- Morgan, Anthony (October 2007). ""Armoured Assault" - Evile frontman Matt Drake hails gargantuan Thrash masterpiece Enter the Grave". Lucem Fero. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
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- Morris, Chris (1994-07-23). "America Makes Platinum Plans For Slayer". Billboard: 14, 16.
- "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Certification Results". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2008-03-05.